Saturday, January 05, 2008


I read earlier today that Faux News blowhard Bill O'Reilly pushed an Obama campaign staffer and had to be restrained by the Secret Service.

Just now I read a Slate magazine piece on the same incident, which reports that people in the crowd were chanting "falafel!" to BillO.

A number of people shouted falafel, the word O'Reilly used in a racy set of telephone conversations with a young woman he was trying to seduce as he described a shower they might take together. He meant loofa, which is not a Middle Eastern delicacy but a bath item.


We Love Lists

BBC News Magazine Monitor: 100 things we didn't know last year

hat tip to BlogsNow

Test Your Traveler IQ

Flag of Jamaica

From playing this game, I learned how little I know about the world! (I also played the "flags of the world" game, where I put Jamaica in Africa among other gaffes.) For me, this would have been a great way to learn geography. Make it a quiz!

The Traveler IQ Challenge

hat tip to Lawyers, Guns & Money

No Catskills Casino

The Bush Administration finally got one right. The two tribes planning the casinos in Sullivan County are from far away -- the Mohawks are from the northern reaches of New York State, and the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe based in Wisconsin. Of course, whites forced the original tribe from the area, the Lenni-Lenape, from their native land. The Lenni-Lenape are now scattered and have never been given tribal status by the United States. While recognizing the terrible treatment of native peoples by our government, there is no need to allow an environmental disaster like a casino adjacent to the Catskill Forest Preserve.

Middletown Record: Sullivan casino plans denied
Feds reject tribes' proposals for Raceway and Bridgeville

MONTICELLO — The decades-old quest for casinos in Sullivan County could be over.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne yesterday denied land-into-trust applications from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which proposed a casino at Monticello Raceway, and from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, which sought to build one in Bridgeville.

In denial letters to 22 tribes across the United States, all sent yesterday, Kempthorne expressed concern for how casinos might negatively affect tribal communities, causing American Indians to move hundreds of miles away from their reservations for work at gambling facilities, he said.

"The Tribe's application fails to carefully address and comprehensively analyze the potential negative impacts on reservation life and does not clearly demonstrate why these negative impacts should be outweighed by the financial benefits of tribal ownership of a remote gaming facility," a letter from Interior Department said.

NYTimes: Interior Secretary Rejects Catskill Casino Plans

Newsday: US officials reject Catskill casino plans

Albany Times-Union: A setback for Catskills casino plans
Decision curtails off-reservation gambling halls

Why Obama and Huckabee Won

Sunny optimism. People like nice people, happy people, cheerful people. We are afraid of anger. As a trial attorney I learned not to show anger towards a witness until the jury was already angry. Otherwise I'd turn them right off. I could express their anger, but not mine until they had it, too.

Most voters don't have time to get past the surface of a candidate. That's why George W. Fuckup is president. We pointy-headed intellectuals knew he was a malevolent pile of shit, but he exuded sunny optimism. He was a compassionate conservative! You and I knew this was crap, but it worked. People liked his chuckle. They liked his upbeat pronouncements about the future of Amurrika.

And to me that's the secret of Obama and Huckabee. They're both very charming in their own way. I know that Huckabee is a whackjob, but most people only see the charm. I know that Obama has been waffling right to court the media, but most people just hear his theme: hope. And who wouldn't rather hope than worry?

Norway Ski Club

For decades I've driven by the Norway Ski Club in Shandaken, New York, on Route 28 as I head towards Delaware County and Catskill Forest Preserve (what I think of as the real Catskills). It always fascinated me, a beautiful white house with green shutters that close and lock, right next to the road, only open on weekends as far as I could tell. What was this Norway Ski Club? Turns out it's a NYC institution (of course) started in the 1930s, still going but struggling to attract new members.

NYTimes: Oh, My Poor Arthritic Ski Club

Yet, there are still vestiges of skiing’s past as a sport accessible to the working man. Starting in the 1930s, city-based ski clubs such as the Norway, Swiss and Miramar flourished. Many were formed by immigrants from ski-loving countries, or groups of neighbors who wanted the sport to be both sociable and affordable. They pooled their money and bought modest houses in ski towns like Ludlow, Vt., and Shandaken, N.Y., in the Catskills.

Membership is dwindling at the clubs that have survived. Many modern skiers find the idea of doing a few chores and sharing a bathroom with strangers, which many clubs require, as unacceptable as a T-shirt without a designer label.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Democrats Sweep

Barack Obama Iowa Caucus Victory Speech

Obama won 37.6% of the Democratic caucus vote, Edwards second with 29.8, Hillary third with 29.5, but all three trounced Two Buck Huck, the Republican 'winner'.

These are the really important numbers (thanks Group News Blog):

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

If I Lived In Iowa

Who would I caucus for tonight? For months I've been an Obama supporter. But now I'm wavering. Because Obama has been spouting the right-wing lines left and right (no pun intended). The Social Security "crisis", let's compromise with Republicans, and this week a dig at John Edwards for being a trial lawyer. Hello, Mr. Harvard Law, almost $8,000,000 of your fundraising has come from lawyers, and that's not all $20 donations from civil rights attorneys.

And what Democrat in their right mind goes after trial lawyers? We are after all the last bulwark against corporate power. Do you think that once you make it impossible for ordinary citizens to bring lawsuits, that the corporations will give up their gold-plated attorneys? Hello? There's a reason Shakespeare wrote, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Not to make the world better for our corporate oligarchs, but to clear the path for tyranny.

And John Edwards is running a very progressive campaign. I'm a true-blue liberal, and I want to vote for a progressive Democrat (like many in the blogosphere). I completely agree with Edwards' contention that corporate power must be opposed head-on. You can't win a fight unless you are willing to fight. I love Atrios' description of the three major Democratic candidates:

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

Here's another reason I'd probably caucus for Edwards tonight: reportedly, Republicans will be crossing party lines (you can do that in the Iowa caucuses, another reason that lily-white state shouldn't be choosing the Democratic nominee) and they're all expected to go for Obama as part of a beat-ubermonsterfeminazi-Hillary, beat-progressive-Edwards strategy.

But the bottom line is, every Democratic candidate is better than every Republican candidate, hands down. I'll work for and donate to the Democratic candidate, whether it's Edwards, Obama, or Clinton, or Dodd, Richardson or Biden. We must take back our country this year. It's now or never.

'Roger the Red-Nosed 'Roider'

A new holiday video for the steroid era:

hat tip to Over the Monster (actually, to the Mom of blogger Roger Booth who forwarded it to him.)

I'm a Criminal

Sez the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, because: I put my CDs on my IPod. Ooh, bad girl. The Washington Post reported this week that the RIAA is making this absurd claim in a lawsuit against a consumer in Arizona.

However, I don't think I am a criminal, because at the time I put my CDs on my IPod, the RIAA had an entirely different view of the matter, and I was relying on it. That's called estoppel, baby. Put that in your corporate pipe and smoke it.

"If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail."

The quote is from the RIAA website. It has since been removed, according to BoingBoing which decries this revisionism. Also, arguing before the United States Supreme Court in 2005, the RIAA attorney said this:

"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your IPod."
Hat tip to BoingBoing which is invaluable on issues of overreaching copyright and privacy.

Music to My Ears

"Sundhage is the anti-Greg Ryan -- fitness is secondary to her, and communication is at a premium."

ESPNSoccerNet: Bringing back the passion

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bye Bye Frederick of Hollywood


We hardly knew ye.

Greg Ryan, Talking About Practice


Deposed USWNT coach Greg Ryan gave an interview to the Arizona Republic before Christmas, defending "the worst decision in the history of organized sports".

His pathetic excuses for taking out his hot goalkeeper Hope Solo for legendary but old and rusty Brianna Scurry:

1. Solo missed a team meal on the day of the England game. (The USA won that game 3-0 and Solo was credited with 4 saves on her clean sheet). I bet she was eating with her brother, who was in China to watch her play in tribute to their father who had died in June.

2. Even though he brings up the rule violation in the interview, he claims that's not why he didn't start her against Brazil. (Then why bring it up, other than to slime her. Jerk.)

3. Briana Scurry looked better than Solo -- in a practice. In this regard, I must quote the eternal words of Allen Iverson:

[W]e're talking about practice. We're talking about practice man. (laughter from the media crowd) We're talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice....we're talking about practice man, we're not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we're talking about practice.

This is what Ryan said about practice leading to his decision:

What did you see during practice that made you decide that Solo wasn't ready for Brazil?

"We played small sided games to big goals, where we were going to get a lot of chances like Brazil would get, dribbling in or around the penalty box. On that day, of the 30 or 40 shots, Hope was giving up three times the number of goals Briana was giving up.

Briana was saving them in the top corners. Hope was letting them go right through her hands, and this was two days before the Brazil game. It was so bad that I brought my assistants down to watch and said, 'Look at this.' Now looking back, correlating the late nights and whatever, maybe it makes a little bit more sense."

I talked to my sister about the bad practice excuse and she said, "People have bad practices before big games all the time. She was just getting it out of her system! What a jerk."

4. And that's his final excuse, that Solo had been keeping late nights. I call bullshit on this one. There is no way that this athlete who has dedicated the tournament to her recently deceased father decides to sabotage herself like that. Maybe she stayed out late the nights after she found out that her bonehead of a coach was taking her out of the most important game of her life (and as it turned out, his career.)

Solo also gave an interview recently to the San Diego Union-Tribune in which, as she has been after her ill-considered (but entirely truthful) post-Brazil-game interview, she is conciliatory and apologetic.

Sexism Never Rests

Christmas with the Gillibrands

An actual letter to the Glens Falls Post-Star regarding the happy news of Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand's pregnancy:
Women should leave some jobs to the men


Regarding a story that appeared in The Post-Star on Dec. 6: "Rep. Gillibrand announces she is pregnant."

First of all, I must admit that I am a male chauvinist and that there are, thankfully, differences between men and women. There are many occupations suitable for women and their physical attributes. Carrying a weapon while serving in the Armed Forces and firefighting are not suitable lines of work for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. How many male police officers feel comfortable with a 100 pound female backup?

And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women.

Ms. Gillibrand's current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child's birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents.

The current base salary (2006) for members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. I wonder if Ms. Gillibrand will do the right thing and reimburse the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $452.60, her daily salary, for each day that she is unable to perform her elected duties. For some reason, I doubt it.


The Group News Blog delivered a tart response, ending with these immortal lines:

Here at the Group News Blog Editorial Desk we are thankful to you for having chosen the sacred Christmas season as your special moment to go off on a woman with child (and her husband) in a small village in the Hudson Valley. You bring credit to all of New York's 20th Congressional District.

And when we set up the nativity scene, we know where to go to find an ass.

Here's a bio of the ass, from a Newsday piece on veterans. Moral of the story is, being a veteran doesn't bring enlightment. I wonder what his adult daughter thinks of Dad's letter?